'Ban DNA Editing Of Sperm And Eggs'

Posted: March 24, 2015 at 2:47 pm

Designer babies are on their way, said experts in genetic engineering as they called for a global ban on the practice.

It is thought that studies involving the use of genome-editing tools to modify the DNA of human embryos will be published shortly, said the authors of a paper in Nature.

The articles lead author, Professor Jennifer Doudna of the University of California at Berkeley, led the team that developed the gene-editing technique that she now wants restricted.

She and her colleagues have now warned of the ethical and safety implications of research that could lead to the birth of what laymen might term super humans.

In our view, genome editing in human embryos using current technologies could have unpredictable effects on future generations, they said. This makes it dangerous and ethically unacceptable. Such research could be exploited for non-therapeutic modifications.

DNA can be edited far more precisely than ever before using Crispr-Cas9 (Credit: Mehmet Pinarci/Sendercorp)

It is possible, for example, for the technology to make unintended changes to DNA, The New York Times reported.

But they are also worried that a public backlash could halt work on disease fighting techniques in somatic (non-reproductive) cells.

Genome-editing technologies may offer a powerful approach to treat many human diseases, including HIV/Aids, haemophilia, sickle-cell anaemia and several forms of cancer, they said.

Scientists at the Hubrecht Institute in the Netherlands reported in Cell Stem Cell two years ago that the technique could repair the cystic fibrosis mutation.

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'Ban DNA Editing Of Sperm And Eggs'

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